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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 16, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT

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to enhance this comprehensive intelligence driven program to detect previously unknown terrorists had and their facilitators. for example research and analysis identified by a law-enforcement agency suspected
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of being a syrian foreign fighter revealed the identity of a new suspect which provided previously unknown information and expanded our intelligence framework. as a foreign fighter threat grows cv he works in close partnership with federal law enforcement counterterrorism intelligence communities, state and local law enforcement and the private sector to counter the threat. the threat posed by syrian foreign fighters and annie's is not limited to the united states. there's a growing international commitment, adding that shared threat to our security. the national targeting center and intelligence office interact with foreign counterparts including those from the five countries, the middle east, europe, north africa and almost a daily basis to collaborate on efforts to meet this threat. most importantly intelligence works aggressively to continue assets and resources across the
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intelligence community and other federal partners to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with our international partners which enable officers and agents to take appropriate operational response. in conclusion cp will work closely with the dhs enterprise, department of state, department of defense, intelligence community and foreign counterparts to address emerging terrorist threats such as those presented by annie's to identify any potential security vulnerabilities. i appreciate the leadership for providing this opportunity to join my colleagues and this serious issue, i look forward to working on this issue. i am happy to answer any questions you may have. >> the chair recognizes mr. wagner for his testimony. >> thank you, chairwoman milliken ranking member thompson, ranking member reza
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aslan, distinguished members of the committee. it is a privilege to discuss u.s. customs and border protection in securing international travel against threats of terrorists and their supporters. response the potential threat by the islamic state of iraq other terrorist groups and supporters including u.s. citizens, c v p and d. h. s. refine border security operations focusing and resources on the greatest risks at extending security measures out word to interdict threats before they reach the united states. threat terrorist organization continue to target commercial air transportation as a means to move operatives into the united states or attack the homeland our focus operational efforts to detect and respond to the threats in the air environment. last you see vp process 7 million travelers that nation's airports, we developed and deploy resources to mitigate risks posed by travelers that every stage including when an individual applies for travel documents, reserves or purchases
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airline tickets, checks in at the airport while on route and upon our arrival and before for national travels to the united states, for is required to apply for 9 immigrant visa, travel authorization for travel authorization. before issuing the visa the department of state identifies the legibilities. cbp screens applicants in advance of travel to assess eligibility and potential risks to the united states. in this fiscal year cbp denied applications for 300 travelers for security related reasons. once travelers booked but before the flight departs cbp obtain and analyze his airline data including reservation information, passenger name records and manifest information, advance passenger information which contains the
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past 4 biographical data and flight information to assess the risk of all passengers regardless of citizenship or visa status. cbp's national targeting center analyzes traveler data and applies intelligence driven targeting rules described by my colleague mr. to conduct risk assessments. if derogatory information or the risks are discovered cbp is able to take action in several ways prior to actual travel so we can address these concerns. in order of descending authorities and capabilities we have pre clearance, immigration advisory program and regional carrier liaison groups. our highest capability is pre clearance, where cbp officers operate on foreign soil in uniform with search authorities and operational capability similar to what we have in the united states, travelers are questions, we go through our database and corrected before they board the aircraft. please clarence requires agreement with the host country to allow us to operate in such a manner but after the flight is 3 cleared out for an airport
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treated as a domestic flight once a rise in the u.s.. cbp officers and their culture specialist in 16 locations in six countries. three clarence offices refused entry to 24 travelers for secure related reasons. creepier and facility in of lou dobbs which opened this year is in critical importance as it is a transit hub for numerous high risk pathways' where terrorists travel which gives cbp a critical security operation in a strategic location. next is the immigration advisory program with cbp officers in plain clothes that 11 foreign airports in nine countries to work with their carriers to work and identify potential threats. no search authority purse a but can question travelers in an advisory capacity and recommend additional security screening recommend airline, recommending
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for airlines boarding 60 passengers for security related reasons legion locations without free clearance operations we utilize regional carrier liaison groups and established relationships with commercial airlines to prevent passengers who may pose a security threat, or inadmissible from boarding flights to the united states and these regional carriers are in constant contact with the airlines to exchange this information. all points in the travel continuing cbp continues vetting passengers and travel information including these ups and authorizations to ensure any changes in a traveler's eligibility are identified in real time. this continual batting allows us to coordinate action like referring individuals for further inspection upon arrival. recurring vetting has cost 400 previously approved to be revoked for security related reasons. upon arrival in the united states all travelers the subject to inspection, reviewing documents, conduct interviews, a pro. biometric and biographical
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against law-enforcement data bases and counterterrorism response protocols in place at ports of entry for passengers accounting for links to terrorism which mandates immediate coordination with national targeting center, coordination with our partners that the fbi and the terrorist screening center or the national counterterrorism and ice. cbp conduct outbound operations leveraging available travel information annualizing intelligence driven targeting rules specific to the outbound environment to identify when appropriate interview, african travelers for law enforcement or security related reasons so thank you for the opportunity to testify today and thank you for the attention you are giving to this important issue and i'm ready to answer any questions. >> the chair recognizes jennifer lasley. >> ranking member thompson, ranking member sheila jackson lee, i am pleased to be here with colleagues from cbp to discuss the rights to the
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homeland for foreign fight is traveling to syria to participate in the conflict and will we are doing to mitigate the threats. you correctly stated the ongoing conflict in syria emerged at an unprecedented offer at thousand 4 and fighters including europeans and u.s. persons, to join the fight there. these individuals radicalized and newly acquired skills to carry out attacks. we have seen an example of this in europe where in may at french national fought alongside the islamic state in syria. a jewish museum in brussels, killing four people. we currently have no credible information to indicate the islamic state isis is planning to attack the homeland but we remain concerned access to westerners and safe havens in
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the middle east will allow them to plan and coordinate attacks in the u.s.. more broadly, veteran al qaeda at fighters travel to syria to pakistan, permissive operating environment. and u.s. persons, we are concerned syria could emerge as a base of operations for al qaeda's international agenda which could include attacks against the homeland. we remain concerned u.s. persons who link up with violent extremist groups in syria regardless of their original reasons for traveling to the country could gain combat skills, extremist connections and possibly become radicalized or be further persuaded to conduct organized, coordinated or lone wolf attacks potentially targeting the u.s. and western interests. because the h s border transportation security and immigration personnel are at the front lines of many encounters with potential syrian foreign
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fight is the department is working to ensure they have the most up-to-date information and can act on it in coordination with law-enforcement partners as appropriate. i inais working to inform state and local law-enforcement partners about observable indicators of u.s. persons attempting to travel to syria. we produced a letter assessments on u.s. travelers, travel patterns, there will social media is playing in radicalization to violence and the ways u.s. persons are providing material support to syria based extremist groups. we have partnered with the fbi to produce joint intelligence bulletins and other products for state and local law enforcement on trends and observable behavior is in individuals seeking to travel to syria to join the fighting. ina is faring with dhs operational components predictably cbp, t s a and u.s.i ask for other terrorists who are looking to travel to the united
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states and working with international -- interagency partners to disrupt their travel or take appropriate law-enforcement steps. we work everyday to leverage our unique data to insure individuals who are not fully identified in intelligence channels can be appropriately watch listed and denied entry into the united states. finally we work with with the department to provide intelligence assessments that support the visa waiver program. the program dhs has managed since 2003 in consultation with state department that facilitate lowers travelers into the u.s. for tourism and business. countries participating in this program must undergo a rigorous review process and agree to share criminal information with the u.s.. our intelligence assessments which are one factor in the country reviews but a number of criteria for determining the country's eligibility to participate in of these a waiver program. including terrorist threat to
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the u.s. those by nationals of that country, counterterrorism capability of that country, the state of information sharing between the u.s. government and that country and the security of passports and other identity documents and using similar criteria we participate in dhs led reviews of all visa waiver countries which must occur at a minimum every two years. to evaluate whether a country should remain in the program. these are a few ways in which we are working to keep the homelands safe from terrorism threats and those posed by returning for an fighters. thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today about these important issues and i look forward to your questions. >> the chair now recognizes mr. johnson for her testimony. >> shareswoman miller, ranking member thompson, ranking member sheila jackson lee and distinguished members of the subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of the state department and with my colleagues from the
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department of homeland security. we are deeply support of dhs's efforts to protect the homeland and make every effort to amplify its work through diplomatic engagement with our allies and partners. we remain concerned by the activities of terrorists in syria and iraq including the islamic state, iraq isil. we have seen in syria a trend of foreign fighter travel for the purpose of participating in the conflict largely driven by global connectedness through the internet social media on an unprecedented scale. we and the state department working closely with countries affected by the foreign fighter problem to counter the threat these fighters pose. the department of state works with dhs to support its mission in protecting the united states, promoting effective border security screening with our foreign partners to enhance information sharing. for example we believe is in our best interest to share terrorism screening information with select foreign governments as all of us face a global
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terrorist threat that does not recognize national boundaries. to this end we were close to the terrorist screening center which implements information sharing agreements with foreign partners including visa waiver program countries. these agreements allow parties to conduct name checks for incoming flights to their countries which helps us to be turned terrorist travel and creates an extra layer of security for the united states. we work closely with our partners at dhs to strengthen global aviation security by engaging foreign partners to bolster radiation screenings at last points of departure airports with direct flights to the united states. we do this to identify and prevent known or suspected terrorists from boarding commercial flights and prevent terrorist attacks against global aviation. additionally the department of state is leading interagency efforts to engage with foreign partners to prevent and interdict foreign extremist travel to syria and we work closely with the interagency including dhs to expedite
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comprehensive approaches. this includes facilitating information exchanges with foreign partners, building part capacity and developing shared objectives. ambassador robert bradford, a senior adviser for partner engagement on syria for and fighters believes this work for the state department is that with officials from the european union member countries, north africa, the gulf, the balkans and the stage and pacific to discuss and examine our shared concerns about this threat. in part progress has been made but more work remains. countries in the balkans recently adopted or are considering more comprehensive counterterrorism laws which in the gulf countries like kuwait, and saudi arabia had increase penalties related to terrorist financing and several established necessary architecture to enforce the counter terrorism was more effectively. the european council recently called for the accelerated implementation of e.u. measures in support of member states to combat foreign fighters. this includes finalizing a e.u.
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passenger name record proposal by the end of this year. and increasing cooperation with partner nations such as the united states to strengthen border aviation security in the region. we will continue to work closely with partners in coming months to enhance this cooperation and build on our efforts today. in the week of september 24th president obama will chair a united nations security council summit on a rising threat posed by foreign terrorists fighters. this presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate the threat of international consensus and concern regarding of a foreign terrorist fighter threat and to build momentum for policy issues on this topic at home and abroad. the same week secretary john kerry and a turkish foreign minister will co-chair a global counterterrorism forum, ministerial meeting. at this meeting members will adopt the first ever set of global good practices to address the foreign terrorist fighter threat. members will also launch a
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working group dedicated to working globally to mobilize resources and expertise for these good practices. the conclusion, the department of state support of of dhs efforts to report -- support their homeland and its support is worked through diplomatic engagement efforts. this is a critical component to combating terrorist travel. i look forward to answering questions and working with you and our friends and allies across the globe to make the united states safer. thank you. >> thank you all very much. this subcommittee and our full committee and certainly our subcommittee had a number of hearings about our fees ups, the status of our visa program. we have a lot of discussion about the visa waiver program and i am hearing we had a year ago this month in a hearing in march of this year the subcommittee asked a lot of questions about love visa waiver program and so we certainly
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understand to expedite travel but the world is changing. as we think about things we need to do to grow our economy we have to consider some of these various processes and systems we have in place with other countries, our allies, our friends, what kinds of programs we put in place that put america at risk and so to is at my first question would be -- we referred a lot of testimony and in opening statements about estimates, 12,004 and fighters from so many european countries that travel on western passports that are in see -- some countries in the visa waiver program etc.. one of the things obviously in the be so waiver program requires information sharing and as we sit here on the day before
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-- we are talking about 911 really. one of the things the 9/11 commission recommendation recommendations that they made observations that they made that always sticks in my mind is how we had to move from the need to know information to the need to share information. information sharing is a critical component, to be a country that is participating in the visa waiver program with the united states and we certainly see for instance up passenger name record, the data we can utilize to identify fighters or suspicious travelers or what have you, we see our ally as i mentioned in the opening statement, the u.k. being so great on sharing information. everybody gives them accolades for they're sharing of information but some of the other european countries, maybe not so good. even in our own hemisphere it appears mexico is pretty good at
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least i have heard that. canada, there has been concern raised about information sharing their. i would say first of all, how many -- how many countries do we currently have? close to 30. are there any -- are there any that have ever been eliminated from this program? are there any -- that are thinking about other things agencies are able to do to be more aggressive in making sure we are getting the information we think we need, shared with us in order for these countries to participate in the visa waiver? are there things we need to do legislatively to assist the agency? not sure who i am directing this question to. who would like to start with that? mr. wagner? miss jennifer lasley? >> i can give you a little background in terms of how many
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members we have today in the visa waiver program. we have 30 from europe, 7 from the asia-pacific region, one in latin america. it is my understanding we have since the inception of the program, as you stated in the 80s two countries have been taken from the the so waiver program list, argentina and uruguay but it was many years ago and it was not because of terrorism related issues but more economic issues. >> is there any thought about as i say is there anything you need from us legislatively to assist you in being more aggressive? if there are these kinds of concerns about information sharing from any of these countries should we be much more aggressive about the information we think we need in order to feel comfortable to continue to have a visa waiver eligibility
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from these various countries? >> we get a lot of information from these countries. a sine die information sharing agreements, we do the biannual every two year review of the countries and their procedures, report stolen passports and travelers fill out the application where we get 17 data elements which we run through background checks and the recurring checks noon to 85 applications for security information and we revoke 393 in and this was after it was issued and we do the recurring vetting, new information that cause us to issue that revocation. our total applications this year, 35,000. it is a small number, but very
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consequential and important members so some of the things we're looking at as reviewing all of our procedures, data collection efforts, of getting the right data elements? are there other elements we can use that have an impact, privacy of individuals has an impact on travel and tourism facilitation efforts as well and what can we do with the data if we collected it but these other things we are reviewing with many other procedures and things we continue to do in all of our programs. >> following up on that, we talk about the electronic system for travel authorization, as you know, was added as a security requirement by congress after 9/11. previous to that, we didn't have the esta and as you mentioned 17 different elements you are asking on the form, mr. wagner,
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the name, obviously the name, passport numbers, information, elements you are obtaining that you can check against our databases. but these applications, you have to have 110 pieces of information apparently that are required in regards to esta, august taking notes about the estas that have been revoked or denied, i am drafting some legislation right now and this is one of the things i am going to ask you. i am drafting legislation currently. hope to be introduced even today that we would clarify what the purpose of esta actually is and to ensure terrorists don't get on airplanes and asking the department to tell us what changes to esta might be necessary to increase security? i am asking you for what your thought is on legislation like
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that? the agencies have the authority short of congressional legislation to ask for additional -- it would seem to me, i am not in your business but it would seem to me asking for additional information particularly from a number of these countries in the visa waiver program, 15 or 17 pieces of information would be something that would be under consideration and again using few have the authority to do that? understanding esta was from the recommendations, should we be giving you legislation to assist you there? >> we are we feeling this and the number of other programs we have. part of that review is do we need additional authorities to conduct additional information? i believe in esta we have the authorities that that is one of the things we are reviewing, the types of information we need, could we use it, how would we use it, how would we collected,
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is it verifiable information? is it useful information? do we have systems to make use of that data that we would collect it and would it be helpful? we are looking at those things. has an operational organization we are always looking for additional data sources but with respect to people's privacy, is there a useful need for us to collect that information and can we actually put it to use? in general, coupled with the airline data, it helps us paint a better picture of travellers and where they are going for how long and what other information we can relate that to, so having in general terms a broader set of data to allow us to identify individuals or identify individuals who are not the person we are looking for because we have additional data and we can dismiss any connections we may think are
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there with a person. that is balancing privacy and the cost and where we would keep the information. >> being cognizant certainly of my time i will ask one other additional question, think about this a bit because in addition to that piece of legislation i am preparing a piece of legislation that would speak to, excuse me, clarifying the authorizations the department of state already has in order to revoke passports, looking at what is going on in the u.k. with dual citizenship etc. and so we are very free and open society but we're living in a changing world here and whether or not you have the authorization to revoke these passports, how can we help you clarify that? i was looking through -- trying to become familiar with what has to happen to lose your
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citizenship, for instance, it talks about if you are entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state, perhaps that is ambiguous when talking about terrorist organizations because they are not a foreign state, these are the kinds of things the committee is looking at today from you. we want to give you the tools that you need to help you to protect the homeland and if there is a flaw in what we have, it is not strong enough, we need to get that feedback from all of you. if anyone has any comment on that. >> the state department has the authority to revoke passports on national-security grounds and we are very concerned about the over 100 americans in the foreign fighter ranks. we work closely with our law enforcement of intelligence partners on information because we don't unilaterally with
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passports, this bureau sets -- we are reviewing right now in consultation with law-enforcement intelligence part ears, current tools at our disposal that because this is a big concern we want to look to be able to use that authority but not interrupt legitimate travel of other u.s. citizens to be engaged in the region. >> i would mention time is of the essence and i think you can see that because of the consternation on behalf of the american people of this. is not an issue. you are going to be looking at a member that will be introducing legislation today of these issues and i am trying to assist you and we will see how quickly the congress can actually act and we are looking for feedback from all of you. with that, the chair recognizes the ranking member, sheila jackson lee from texas. >> again, let me thank the chairman and thank my ranking member and as well the chairman
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of the full committee, again. this hearing is not to draw you over here to the united states house as much as it is to make an important statement of oversight. .. and i thank you all for being on the front lines of doing that. that is what the department was created for and that is what the committee is created for as well. so i want to go to a pointed
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question. in the collaboration between state and the department of homeland security in particular, intelligence, in dealing with cbp, is it your thought that the isil action in syria and iraq, and the isil profile could be a threat to the united states? mr. miller. >> yes, ma'am. as you stated, over 100 americans have traveled to be with iso and other extremist groups overseas and western europeans, i do believe it could be a short-term and long-term threat to the united states. >> mr. wagner? >> yes, i also agree. looking at the systems we have and how we look at the
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information we get from the airlines with a person's reservation information and looking at their itineraries and other characteristics of their travel, do they fit what we know about, you know, what the intelligence reporting our known factors, or are we identifying individuals that been we want to have further inspection with and try to talk to them and try to determine what their purpose and their intent of travel is. we have good systems to be able to do that. we have good intelligence reporting couples build those characteristics. we get good information from department of state and other entities when we do want to take actions against known individuals. then we have the systems in place to identify them and figure out what point in the process we need to intercept them and have that discussion. >> ms. lasley. >> we certainly assess that isil presented long-term threat to the country. we know that their leader back
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in january spoke of direct competition with the united states. as i said we don't see a near-term threat directly from them, no evidence yet of that, but they do have a very sophisticated and savvy media campaign, especially a social media campaign. i think our near-term concern is that that campaign will be quite appealing to individuals who would seek to radicalized, whether they're over in europe or here in the homeland. ticket conduct an attack on their own at any time based on the media campaign. so that is a very clear near-term concern that we have. >> ms. johnson. >> we would tackle all those comments. it's not just the homeland what are u.s. citizens overseas. so we're also looking at that aspect. we don't isil stated threats against the united states, so look at our protection of our you citizens overseas as well as our missions and are always adjusting our posture
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accordingly. >> thank you. let me ask a specific question. both mr. miller and esther wagner know and as we all know, the two acts of beheading were redirected toward the sentimen sentiments, the infrastructure values of the united states. certainly as ms. johnson said to attacks on our citizens that were overseas. to mr. miller and mr. wagner, following up on the line of questioning of chairwoman miller, i'm concerned as to whether or not we do the kind of coordination that is actually needed. i guess i don't want to use the term imminent. i think creating hysteria is not the intent of this committee, but i also hesitate to be able to solid predict isil's threat level in as much as we are reminded of our posture on the day before 9/11, 2001. so let me just, in the manner in
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which you can answer this question you come to about the level of coordination in this climate. mr. miller, i'd like to hear what level, how intent to record nation is, how comfortable you are with the coordination, and what do you need to make it better? and i would ask mr. wagner that question. >> ouquestion. >> our coordination with the intelligence that unity and the law enforcement community in the u.s. is stronger than ever. we are working this threat daily whether it's with the fbi and the intelligence community. our foreign counterparts, we're working with them. i know with australians and uk -- i just met with just trillions and uk yesterday. stronger and stronger sentiment from our european partners as well. and we can explain some of our
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relationships, burdening relationships in a classified environment more fully. >> mr. wagner. >> we take that information to we make operational decisions based upon it. and getting that information is critical to us making the right decisions on how we operationalize that information. one of the things we would like to see is a stronger response from some of our partners overseas, and emulating some of the ways we do our border security management which was referenced earlier, you know, use of pnr and use of the airline manifest information in trying to take actions in advance of travel and not waiting until that person shows up on your trusted to figure out what to do with them. we would encourage all of our allies around the globe to consider those types of systems and those practices and we work very closely with a lot of countries and help them build up that capacity. >> two questions if i might just very quickly. ms. johnson, i understand it
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somewhat difficult to track the travel of foreign terrorists. i like to know what the state department is doing and how you're improving tracking the travel of foreign terrorists and coordinating with your fellow collaborating nationstates about whether you're doing that. lastly if i can ask you the question of our level of intelligence in the climate of what we're in now and backtrack it to 9/11 where we were saying quite the contrary. we didn't have a slight inkling of what was going to be happening the next day. are we any better place and is there something more unique, ms. johnson? >> thank you. obviously worked with her for partners as an ongoing effort. echo has different legal regimes and privacy concerns but they're very concerned about the foreign fighter terrorist threat. we are working with them very closely. as in making the european union
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is looking at the passenger name record situation hoping to adopt something by the end of this year. that will help us to be able to understand who is coming and who's traveling. we are speech do you think that no-fly list can be made more robust? >> i think for the no-fly list i think we're working very strong, all the time talking about how we can work the no-fly list to make sure it's got accurate information, its operational. i do share the information with for partners because they know who's on the no-fly list. we worked on aviation screening generally with her for partners particularly last departure airport figure enhancing their own screening efforts that helps us prevent people from getting on planes including from other parts of the world to our european allies airports. as i mentioned, our information sharing a great, particularly with the visa waiver partner countries but also additional countries under homeland security presidential directive six, we share biographic
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information with foreign partners, a lot of the information again is individuals on the no-fly list and those need to be more screened. we also something i think that dhs and doj can talk about the preventing serious crime agreements which also collect biometric information, fingerprints, exchange that information. a lot of capabilities to enhance our border security screening. >> we are way over the time, ms. lasley answer your question in writing of the chair recognizes the gentleman, the ranking member, mr. thompson. >> thank you very much, madam chairman. mr. wagner, from time to time congress has in its infinite wisdom cut the budget of agencies who are tasked on the front line to keep us safe. in the present budget are you
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comfortable that you can provide the security and assurance necessary that cbp is doing all it can to keep bad people from getting into the country? >> yes, i believe we can come editing cbp was fortunate enough to be one of the organizations to see a very generous budget including the addition of 2000 fiscal officers this year in the administration's request for 2015, there's also a request for another 2000 plus officers which we know are critically important to securing the economy but also securing and securing and countering this threat. >> i understand that manpower, but i'm concerned about technology and some of the things necessary to support the increase in people along the border.
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i'm looking at the international side of it. >> we use those officers to deploy them in places like preclearance overseas, deploy them in our immigration advisory program, to our national targeting center, to be able to we collect the information, reflect the reports and operationalize that. it's cbp officers and analysts and others but principally cbp officers based on their experience and knowledge in turning it into actionable operational entities, being able to question these travelers from different points and continue to address that. >> it's not a matter of resources. so are you satisfied with coordination between the agencies in terms of identifying these individuals coming into this country? >> yes, i think we've seen that it's been better than ever at this point. and as these threats continue to
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appear, you know, the sharing and coordination get stronger and stronger. our systems integrations to make sure our databases are talking to each other so when state department takes an action against of these or passport it appears in our database so we can take action when a traveler tries to travel or begins the travel speed let's take that the example. is not a real-time identification or is there lag time? >> it would be a real-time identification. that information appears in a different system and then we try to access it in for -- far in advance of a person's travel as we can in order to take the appropriate action. address whatever kind of questions we have, so yes. >> ms. johnson, there's been some discussion about revoking of passports. further, -- for the committee's edification, are the present rules for revoking passports as
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robust as they need to be given this present isis threat potentially is expanding? >> thank you. i know our counselor of years ago is working working with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners to review all of our options under believe you're looking at that as well. i can take that back to have lawyers and the bureau provide a more fulsome answer if you would like. >> well, i would but if you would, are you comfortable with the press and protocols in place that if those individuals are identified, that the passport cancellation process would fully comply with that cancellation? >> i think that's a question that the counselor a fierce. and answer better but i believe it's in real time. when we revoke passports, i
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believe, i don't know how many we have done, that it's pretty quick. but begin we do in consultation with the law enforcement and intelligence community so there should be operational entities working side-by-side. >> can anybody else address that question? well, can you get counselor of affairs to provide it? i think one of the questions that we are contemplating is whether or not when these individuals are identified that we're doing everything we can to keep them from getting back here to american soil. and if there's some question as to whether not that is, in fact, taking place, we need to put any potential gap that exists. i yield back, madam chair. >> i thank the gentleman very much and the chair a recognize that chairman of the full committee, chairman mcauliffe. >> thank you, madam chair for
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holding this important hearing, very timely. i thank you for your leadership as well. tomorrow we will observe the 13th anniversary of the nine elevenths terrorist attacks. whilwild made tremendous amountf progress since that tragic day in 2001, we have to continue to be vigilant, to be one step ahead of our adversaries. today, isis is the biggest threat to the homeland. these terrorists are brutal, driven and intent on attacking the united states. the job of this committee to ensure that this does not happen. the largest concern is isis recruitment to foreign fighters, many of whom have western passports that could ease the travel into europe and into the united states to carry out attacks. the fact is you don't know what you don't know. we only have estimates of how many westerners and foreign
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fighters are in isis ranks. potentially thousands that we do not know who they are. one of the biggest worries from a counter terrorist perspective is the unknown terrorist, those with no criminal record or intelligence traces who could use a valid u.s. passport or the visa waiver program to enter and exit the homeland. for example, in may 22 your florida man who joined al-nusra in syria, an al-qaeda affiliate, killed 16 and himself a suicide bombing attack against city in government forces. u.s. officials say he was on their radar screen but acknowledged that he traveled back to the united states before returning to syria without detection. it was also key for the michigan to take the real steps to stop the radicalization of our youth so they do not leave for jihad.
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this week i visited the cbp's national targeting center to observe the hard-working men and women who are responsible for preventing travel by terrorists and those with terrorist ties and others who we have various watch lists. the work they do targeting obscure information and connecting the dots to keep dangerous people out of the united states is a vital to stopping isis. let me say i am hopeful, very hopeful that tonight, i will talk to the secretary jeh johnson, very hopeful that tonight we'll hear from the president to take the vice of his chairman of the joint chiefs, general dempsey, that the only way you can defeat isis is to attack them wherever they exist. and i'm hopeful tonight that the president will come out strongly on this issue. because it is a matter of national security and it's a
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matter of homeland security that we do so, that we stop them over there before they can come here. and that is really a whole purpose of this hearing, one flight away. because these individuals are just one flight away. so i would like to ask the panel, you know, we've seen this gentleman from florida get in and out undetected. we saw tamerlan tsarnaev who is on the radar leave this country and come back and pull off a terrorist attack in boston. what assurances can you give me that that will not happen in the future lacks mr. wagner. >> thank you. so looking at the lessons we learned with tsarnaev and looking at them with access to certain pieces of information and were actions being followed up and closing a lot of those gaps.
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we learned a really hard lessons with a christmas day bomber and here was a guy we had in our sights but not really realizing his intentions at the time. we were waiting for him on the ground. taking a look at those procedures and getting connecting bit of the pieces of information we have and taking action against a person as far in advance of them boarding the planes possible, whether that's revoking their visas so when they check in at the unlike the online -- that these has been revoked or having a pre-clears officers overseas question and talk and search a person for the get on board the aircraft or officers are working to judge with airlines in the foreign authorities to question people and try to determine a person's intent with all the systems we have an altogether we collect we can look for patterns, look for pieces of information come we can come back no piece of information but determined the person's intent is a really difficult a difficult challenge, one best
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uncovered by questioning a person is using our skills to do the and -- >> when i talk to the secretary, we talked about these visa waiver program countries. the ability get more information and more data from these countries so that we do know more about these travelers. would you agree with that? could that be legislatively, would that help you? >> yes. as an operational organization we are always looking for additional sources of information to help us paint a better picture of a traveler if we can figure what their intentions are by having access to additional information and how we would use it and what circumstances would use it and how we would protected. but yes in general i would agree with that. >> i would like to ask mr. miller and ms. lasley on the intelligence side of the house. my biggest concern is we don't have sufficient intelligence, human intelligence, particularly in syria to identify the 100-200
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americans that are over there, that we don't have sufficient intelligence on these tens of thousands of foreign fighters that could board an airplane and come into the united states. i know we're not in a classified setting, but does that disturb you? is it possible some of these foreign fighters have actually returned to the united states, like the man from florida, and are currently your? >> and it does concern us and we continue to look at the known terrorists, to look at there travel patterns, to look at some of data elements that we may be able to utilize to that identify future people. we continue to work with law enforcement intelligence community to see if there's
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additional elements we can utilize to help us identify those folks. and we continue to work with our foreign partners as well. as you stated, we can give more of what we're doing i and a classified and firemen to put the full picture together. >> i would agree with my colleague. we don't have a full picture in all cases. i think that's why our interaction with our foreign counterparts in particular is quite important, so that they have citizens who are fighting there, we sure those identities and that information with each other. i know the department and our work with state department, both dhs and state are working very closely to make all of that information known and shared. >> that all sounds great when i us question with a high degree of confidence as to who these people are over there, i'm not always satisfied with the answer and i think the honest answer is
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we don't. i would urge this administration, and i'm hopeful the president tonight will articulate a policy, a strong policy since the pulled out of iraq completely and left a vacuum there now that's developed into what is one of the biggest threats to homeland in iraq answer you that we regain the reconnaissance, that intelligence and also that intelligence on the ground to determine who is over there so that we can stop them from coming back to the united states and killing americans. with that, madam chair, i yield back spent i thank the chairman for his very insightful questions and comments and now recognized the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. barletta. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we spent a lot of time today discussing islamic state terrorists getting into into the united states. but i'm also very concerned as
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the rest of the committee about those who may already be here. last year the government's nonpartisan fact checker, the government accountability office, reported the department of homeland security has lost track of roughly 1 million foreign visitors. mr. miller, what steps is dhs taking to identify these individuals and ensure the american people that they are not affiliated with the islamic state? wouldn't the completion of a biometric entry-exit system help against this threat? >> we have over the last several years taken several steps along with hsi or immigration and customs enforcement to identify those that have overstayed and prioritize them through our automated targeting system.
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with respect to the biometric, i would yield to mr. wagner. >> and thank you. we are using the biographical data now. we receive 100% on airline everyone coming and going out via commercial air on speed we're not doing land entries and exits. >> we are doing some of it at the land. >> my problem with that is if we are not doing it ever we really don't know if someone has left the country. >> absolutely. those are gaps were trying to close. we set up a demo lab with our technology princeton opened a few months ago, invited people to come visit it in landover, maryland. we have some scientists and very, very intelligent people there helping test out what are the right biometrics to collect to record the entry at the ultimate that exit from the united states in the differing challenging environments we need
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to do and in real time so that the course of this year in the next year we will be piloting different types of biometrics in this demonstration lab. we are looking to do a few tests at airports over the course of the next year and then have a good pilot in place at the beginning of 2016 at a single airport with what we think will be the right technology that we would expand to additional locations. >> we know terrorist networks have been using our porous southern border and a broken immigration system to enter the united states. this poll has been actively setting up terrorist networks in latin america for decades now and to working with the mexican drug cartel to move contraband into the united states. al-shabaab has reportedly been sending individuals through central america to take a bit of our broken immigration system and claiming asylum upon injury but never showing up for their hearings.
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-- entry. ms. lasley or mr. miller, what measures are the department of homeland security is taken to ensure the islamic state does not take similar advantage of our porous borders and broken immigration system? is this border crisis that we sing with the unaccompanied minors a concern that now hhs are taking the minors and just dispersing them across the united states without governors or states or communities even knowing who these individuals are, if you can touch on that. >> sure. certainly we've had a long-standing concern in the department about known or suspected terrorists and groups moving in and out of all of our border areas. and so we are continually looking at the information and intelligence that we receive. determine credibility of that information. to date we have not had credible reporting that either hezbollah or any other terrorist group has been taking advantage of our
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borders to move individuals in and out. it's something we're always looking for, but to date we have not seen credible evidence of the. >> just this week i've introduced a bill that would stop the federal government from sending an accompanied miners around the country into our schools come into our neighborhoods without any knowledge at all of what's happening. i think we need to look at what they're looking at as how to get into the united states and kill americans. so thank you. >> madam chair, just an inquiry. would you give the gentleman an additional 30 seconds so i could pose the question to the gentleman? >> yes. >> i thank the gentleman. we work together on a number of issues but do you have documentation that unaccompanied children, ages two years old and for his old and six years old and 10 years old are, in fact, known terrorists that are spread throughout the nation?
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you have present and no knowledge and documentation? maybe will have to look at the documentation but do you have no documentation? >> i'm not saying that we have no documentation that the unaccompanied minors, 85% of them were ages 14-17 are known terrorists but certainly shouldn't we consider that a threat that we don't know anything about these individuals and their being sent around the united states, special with a threat that's going on in rac with isis, with our known intelligence that they want to come to the united states. don't you think that we are vulnerable without knowing speak let me thank -- >> the chair will now recognize mr. bork from texas for his comments. >> thank you, madam chair. appreciate you bringing -- mr. or rourke. assembly the panel we have. i want to clarify the response
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ms. lasley made to mr. barletta is question and comment and seek further clarity from any member of the panel who would wish to offer it. when a member of congress says we all know terrorist networks are using our southern borders to enter the u.s. i think it's very important for all of us in a sworn response both to know whether or not that is a true statement. i have been told by dhs adequately as recently as last month that there's no evidence nor has there ever been a terrorists entering the u.s. through the southern border, our border with mexico or that terrorist plots have been fought or intercepted at the southern border of a terrorist plots have been carried out within the u.s. that have a connection to the southern border. that is what are directly from dhs. is there any further clarity to? >> will the gentleman yield? >> i will.


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